Community Outreach and Engagement Team

  • Kimberly Burke

    • Assistant Director of Operations

    Kimberly Burke holds a BS/MPH in Nutritional Sciences and Environmental Health from the Boston University School of Public Health. Kimberly began her career as a community nutritionist in the Women, Infants and Children program (WIC) in Boston, Massachusetts, where she gained experience providing parents and caregivers with nutrition counseling, creating educational materials, and planning educational events. Following this, she worked as an environmental analyst for the Community Assessment Program at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health where she prepared health consultations on contaminated sites throughout the state and worked on cancer cluster investigations. Her subsequent role as a program coordinator at the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health allowed her to work closely with community organizations, key local and national stakeholders, and research participants on community health education initiatives around common urban pollutants. In her current role as operations manager for COE, she coordinates research projects, assists with event planning and together with COE works closely with community partners to tailor education and outreach programs to the needs of diverse communities.

    Kimberly Burke
  • Kazeem Abdul

    • Research worker

    Kazeem is originally from Ago Iwoye, Nigeria where he studied Liberal Arts and trained at the Nigerian Institute of Journalism as a Public Relations Expert. Since 2002, he has worked diligently with many Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) medical doctors on health research to enlighten New Yorkers across the 5 boroughs about cancer prevention and general health care support. Through his work as a Public Health Research Worker at Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Community Outreach and Engagement Office (COE), he has been co-authored in three publications published by the Journal of Community Health, Cancer Prevention Research, and Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention. Currently, Kazeem’s aim is to make health care knowledge, specifically cancer and cancer prevention, more accessible to New Yorkers via faith leaders to their congregants by making videos about various health topics in English and his native language, Yoruba, through COE. 

    Kazeem Abdul
  • Andria Reyes

    • Health Education Manager

    Andria Reyes has an undergraduate degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Health and Behavior Studies from Teacher’s College, Columbia University. Andria has expertise creating and delivering culturally relevant health promotion and disease prevention materials. For the HICCC, she manages the health education program, delivers a suite of health education workshops in English and Spanish, offers research document translation services to the Columbia community, and offers her research expertise to investigators throughout the cancer center. Andria is also part of the HICCC Tobacco Cessation Program and counsels patients as a Tobacco Treatment Specialist. She is currently working on obtaining the national credential for Tobacco Treatment Specialists.

    Andria Reyes
  • Mary Beth Terry, PhD

    • Associate Director for Population Science and Community Outreach

    Mary Beth, Professor of Epidemiology, has over 20 years of experience conducting studies examining environmental and lifestyle exposures and how they affect cancer risk.  She is committed to training and is very involved in high school and undergraduate training programs for youth in the local communities.

    Mary Beth Terry
  • Grace Hillyer, EdD, MPH

    • Clinical Trials, Tobacco Cessation

    Grace Hillyer is an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and health educator in the Mailman School of Public Health.  Her expertise lies in the applied use of behavioral theory to conceptualize and investigate multilevel psychological, social, and cultural factors impacting health behavior among underrepresented and underserved populations and the application of mixed research methodology to construct and implement tailored educational interventions. 

    Grace Hillyer
  • Karen Schmitt, RN

    • Outreach, Screening

    Karen Schmitt, MA, RN, Director of the Manhattan Cancer Services Program, is a clinician and health educator whose career of more than 30 years has focused on understanding the health seeking behaviors and beliefs, communication preferences, and educational and cancer needs of the diverse populations within our community to mitigate cancer disparities. Both her community work and research build on a framework to address and overcome the social and cultural barriers to preventive cancer care and has improved the access to cancer screening, diagnostics, and treatment for thousands over the years.

    Karen Schmitt
  • Maya Lipsman, MPH

    • Senior Project Coordinator, Project Director, Cancer Prevention in Action

    Maya Lipsman received her Master of Public Health from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in 2019 with a degree in Sociomedical Sciences and a Certificate in Health Communications. As a Senior Project Coordinator at COE, she uses her health communication knowledge to create culturally-relevant educational materials for communities that teach them how to reduce their risk of developing center. She also acts as Project Director for the Cancer Center’s Cancer Prevention in Action (CPiA) grant and oversees its day-to-day activities, tracks and reports on progress, and organizes events.

    Maya Lipsman
  • Parisa Tehranifar, DrPH

    • COE Co-Director

    Parisa Tehranifar, DrPH has training and expertise in sociomedical sciences, cancer epidemiology and implementation science. Dr. Tehranifar's research program broadly addresses cancer health disparities and breast cancer screening and prevention.

  • Nicole Bayne

    • Project Manager

    Nicole Bayne completed an undergraduate degree in Biology at Berry College, a degree in Nursing at Georgia State University Perimeter College, and she received her Master of Public Health from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. Nicole has 10 years of clinical experience as an RN, serving in care delivery and leadership roles in the Emory University Hospital system in Atlanta. The desire to expand her ability to address the root causes of health disparities inspired her transition to the field of Public Health. As a Project Manager, Nicole works closely with the HICCC Community Outreach and Engagement Office to ensure local communities have access to chronic disease risk reduction resources and opportunities.

  • Belkis Poche

    • Project Coordinator

    Belkis Poche as a project coordinator with COE and also works closely with the Clinical Protocol and Data Management Office. She is also a member of the DEI Advisory Council at Columbia University. She worked for Aspira of New York (a non-profit organization that achieved bilingual education in the US) as Assistant Director in PS 325. Belkis studied psychology at Fairleigh Dickinson University, studied medicine at the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo in D.R, and worked in the medical National Police Department in Santo Domingo, D.R. In NYC, she has represented the associations of parents and teachers as President of the Council of Presidents in school district #6, was appointed member of the County President Scott Stringer’s Community Education Council, and was part of the Creation of the Chalk Program at New York Presbyterian Hospital. Belkis Poche is also a parent Advocate in NY School Community.

  • Phoenix Matthews, PhD

    • COE Co-Director

    Phoenix Matthews is a clinical psychologist and Professor of Behavioral Research in the School of Nursing. They have more than 25 years of experience conducting community-based health promotion research aimed at reducing cancer-related health disparities. Phoenix is committed to increasing community involvement in cancer research education and research.

  • Chrystelle Vilfranc, PhD

    • Scientific Director

    Chrystelle L. Vilfranc received her Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry, with a minor in Mathematics, from a Historically Black College and University (HBCU), Oakwood University. She completed her PhD in Cancer and Cell Biology, where her dissertation work involved using basic science, molecular and cell biology approaches to determine the role of a key protein in protecting the liver against injury. She then completed a postdoctoral research fellowship in Cancer Related Population Science in the Department of Epidemiology at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health. Her work focused on environmental exposure studies as well as breast cancer disparities research with a focus on postpartum breast cancer. In her current role as Science Director, she leads liver health community initiatives and focuses on science communication efforts to engage scientists at the Cancer Center to communicate their science to the public. She believes that including and involving communities that are underrepresented in health research is key to impactful research and better overall health among these communities and is therefore committed to increasing representation in the cancer space, from the patient level to the researcher and provider levels.

  • Milagro Peters, MPH

    • Project Coordinator

    Born and raised in the islands of Trinidad and Tobago, Milagro Peters migrated to the United States to pursue a degree in Biochemistry and Latin American Studies. During her undergraduate studies, she worked at the Peace Corps where she played a pivotal role in developing essential medical materials for volunteers and enhancing the accessibility of medical records for Peace Corps members. Building on this experience, she pursued a Master of Public Health at Columbia University, specializing in Health Policy and Management. There, she collaborated with community-based organizations, assisting with grant materials and engaging in research focused on risk reduction of chronic diseases in underrepresented communities. Currently, she serves as a project coordinator, working closely with local communities to combat cancer development.